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JUST GET IN, Lester’s Stretching, Terrible Baserunning, Johnson DFA’d, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

The iPhone X was announced yesterday with the full screen thing and the face recognition thing and … I don’t want it? I’m not sure I see the appeal of paying more for the full screen when the world of phone-related content is in squares and rectangles. Why do I need the whole thing to be a screen? I’m sure I’m wrong about this and, within a couple years, will be talking about how I couldn’t live without edge-to-edge screen … but I don’t get it, man.


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  • Jon Lester had some excellent, spot-on thoughts after his start last night about the nature of the game, and about how many things broke right for the Cubs in 2016 (CSN). Whether that’s happening or not for the 2017 Cubs, Lester says, “All you got to do is get in. It doesn’t matter how the season looks, what everybody’s stats are. Whether you limp in or you sprint in, it doesn’t matter. You get in, anybody has a chance. I’ve always been a big believer in that. And there’s been a lot of teams over the years that have proven that.” Lester is, of course, completely correct. We as sports fans (and sports writers) are habituated to crafting narratives after a story has played out – they got hot at the right time! they were the best team all along! they needed to struggle to really figure things out! – but sometimes, it’s just the age old crapshoot thing. Get into the playoffs, see what happens. Sometimes you’ll win because you have more talent and you executed better. Sometimes you’ll lose in spite of those things. Or sometimes you lose because the other team was better. And sometimes you get the lucky bounce that swings a five-game series. Just. Get. In.
  • As for Lester, he once again battled his command early, and then settled in as the game went on. Against a better team, the damage done early may have been a bigger problem, so hopefully Lester can find that groove earlier and earlier as the postseason approaches. And if you’re wondering why Lester was allowed to throw 114 pitches despite the command troubles and early stressful innings, remember that the horses of a rotation have to be ready to throw 110+ pitches in their postseason starts should the situation dictate it. It’s uncommon to see those front-end types getting stretched out at this time of year, even if a game is out of hand or it feels like a guy is losing it (see Max Scherzer last night, who totally ran out of gas in the 7th inning and started walking guys as he was well over 100 pitches, but Dusty Baker left him in to get stretched out – it’s one time you can’t rip on Dusty for that!).
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
  • So, about that twin baserunning gaffe last night. You can watch the play here in the Cubs.com write-up, but the gist is: Ian Happ on first, Willson Contreras on second, two outs, base hit up the middle. Contreras should score easily, and Happ decides to go for third. That, in isolation, was probably a bad decision, and the throw beat Happ there by plenty. But Happ kind of strolled into the tag instead of stopping or sliding or really doing anything resembling a normal baseball move (it appears that he was not aware the throw was coming to third – credit Juan Lagares for a very good decision and an even better throw). Meanwhile, Contreras, who’d been told to take it easy on the bases, had taken it VERY easy, and literally turned to watch Happ get tagged at third base as he stepped toward home plate. Happ was out before Contreras scored, and the run didn’t count. Terrible baseball from both young guys, and they’ll never repeat something like that again.

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  • Addison Russell is slowly increasing baseball activities – he ran the bases and hit in the cage yesterday – but the timetable for his return is unchanged (Cubs.com), with the hope being that he returns for the final week of the regular season.
  • In order to open up a 40-man roster spot for Jen-Ho Tseng today, the Cubs elected to designate Pierce Johnson for assignment, which caught some folks off guard. Johnson, 26, converted full-time to the bullpen this year at AAA, and put up good peripherals in the process, particularly his 31.6% K rate. The 11.5% walk rate is high, and command has always been a serious issue for him, but Johnson would not have been my first guess to open up a roster spot. The reality is, with roster turnover and a need to add players (like Tseng) to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 Draft in December, it’s possible Johnson would have been a roster casualty soon enough anyway. The fact that the Cubs did not bring him up in September to join a bullpen that is trying everything right now to see what sticks probably tells you where the organization is on Johnson’s immediate future.
  • For now, the Cubs will likely waive Johnson and hope he makes it through. At that point they can outright him, and hope to get him to stick around in 2018 on a minor league deal. Given the raw ability, though, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see a rebuilding club claim him.

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  • Joe Maddon wasn’t going to rip the situation after MLB, the Brewers, and the Marlins moved their upcoming series in Miami to Milwaukee because of the aftereffects of Hurricane Irma (CSN), despite the Brewers’ repeated complaints about Cubs scheduling items. Good on Maddon, because some things are bigger than baseball schedules, but let’s be really clear about this: the Brewers just got a big, freebie advantage. I’m not going to complain about it because of the circumstances, but I’m also not going to ignore the reality.
  • A great, fun, bizarre memory, as Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros in Milwaukee (and I assume the Brewers complained about it):

  • The Indians did it, winning their 21st in a row, and tying the 1935 Cubs for the longest winning streak in baseball history (there’s a caveat that the 1916 Giants kinda won 26 in a row, but that streak had a tie in the middle (but it was a weird tie, because it was caused by rain, and nowadays that game would simply be finished later (but maybe the Giants would have lost that one!)); so we’ll say that 21 is basically the record).
  • Folks will have fun with these, I’m sure:

Fun like this:

  • Clever girl:

  • Mike Fiers threw a pitch over Luis Valbuena’s head after this bat flip:

  • Fiers admitted after the game that he felt disrespected and had to send a message, but he clearly doesn’t understand that a Luis Valbuena bat flip is a GIFT BESTOWED UPON YOU. There was no disrespect. Just love.
  • Can’t know for certain, but I’d agree this looks fishy:

  • Tons of good stuff over at TYL, with Luis breaking down the run blocking, discussing practice participants/injuries, and more in the Bullets.

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  • Today’s the last day for the MLB Shop end of season sale, so make sure you peruse the gear there.
  • And over at Amazon, good Deals of the Day today, including Thermos stuff, a Soda Stream, a bluetooth speaker, and a fancy monitor.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.